Though lovers of art history will know The Renaissance as a period of cultural and artistic greatness that emerged from Europe in the Middle Ages, modern purveyors of cinema attribute the term to actors who have revolutionised their careers, albeit with a more catchy title.
The ‘McConaissance’, referring to the changing direction of actor Matthew McConaughey, from stale eye-candy to leading man, occurred throughout the early 21st century, with “Alright, Alright, Alright” the unofficial rallying cry of his own evolution. Reciting the three-worded mantra during his acceptance speech for Best Actor at the 2014 Academy Awards for Dallas Buyers Club, just four years after the poor Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, it was at this very moment that Matthew McConaughey had completed his transition.
Similar words of praise could equally be heaped on Robert Pattinson, as he transitioned from his hunk typecast, toward an altogether more gruff persona. In a career evolution we like to call the ‘Pattaissance’, Robert Pattinson moved past his heartthrob identity of Harry Potter and Twilight and established himself as one of the most exciting actors of his generation, appearing in the likes of Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse and Matt Reeves’ The Batman.
Consider too, then, that actor Zac Efron gets a Renaissance of his own, albeit the recognition that he is beginning to turn his career into new, exciting directions away from the allure of blockbuster glamour.
Skyrocketing to international acclaim in 2006 when he found himself pinned-up on every young girls’ bedroom wall, plastered on their lunchboxes and imprinted on their hearts thanks to Disney’s commercial success of High School Musical, Zac Efron found instant Hollywood fame. The success of the musical was joined by two sequels in the successive two years, though Efron has already done enough by the first instalment to secure a life outside the all-singing high school.
A flurry of heartthrob rom-coms would follow, including the likes of 17 Again, New Year’s Eve and The Lucky One before Efron began turning to the allure of the comedy circuit, taking frat-boy humour to Bad Neighbours, Dirty Grandpa and more. Indicated in 2012 however, upon the release of Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy that showed Efron in the lead role of an independent feature, the actor’s tastes were a little more eclectic than his filmography suggested.
Much like the career path of Robert Pattinson, Zac Efron has more recently turned his attention to independent cinema, collaborating with auteurs of art cinema. Depicting the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was the first of his contemporary forays into such provocative, independent cinema before he collaborated with Harmony Korine in 2019s compelling The Beach Bum.
Whilst Zac Efron may not have made the astronomical cinematic impact as his fellow actors Matthew McConaughey and Robert Pattinson have made in the critical circles, the actor has certainly planted the seed for future success. If his roles in The Beach Bum and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile suggest anything, it’s that Efron is certainly capable of similar success.